Tax advice for last-minute filers

Unfortunately, many last-minute filers end up making expensive mistakes.

Joan Jensen, president and CEO of the Central Credit Union of Illinois, visits ABC7 Chicago with important advice for those who have been procrastinating on taxes.

Avoiding Costly Last-Minute Mistakes: Money Saving Recommendations for Last- Minute Filers from Joan Jensen, President and CEO of Central Credit Union of Illinois.

Nearly half of tax-paying Americans will wait until April 15th to file their income taxes, each with their own particular reason for delaying the inevitable. If you are one of the procrastinators, the following check list will help you avoid the most often made mistakes made by last minute filers.

Avoid the Big Three Easiest-to-Make Mistakes.

* SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS - Check, check and recheck. Juxtaposing a single number can cost you time and then money.

* SIMPLE CALCULATIONS - The easiest numbers often add up to the easiest mistakes. Double check your math to ensure it is correct.

* SIGN THE RETURN. Both husband and wife must sign a joint return in ALL of the appropriate areas, even if only one had income.

Don't Shortchange Your Savings

* Never assume an income is too low to make filing a return worthwhile. If you earned money, you paid taxes on it and as such, you may be in line for a tax refund.

* Tuition Credits and Deductions can add up to a substantial tax savings. Don't miss out on the savings opportunities presented by HOPE, Lifetime Learning Credit and interest paid on student loans.

* This year it pays even more to file a return - even if you are not required to - since only those who file are eligible to receive the stimulus incentive. To qualify one must have a valid Social Security number, have at least $3,000 in qualified income and not be a dependent or eligible to be a dependent on someone else's return. For forms and other information, visit,,id=179739,00.html.

Avoid The Post Office Crowds And Get Your Refund in Half the Time - By e-filing, taxpayers may file and pay online until 11:59 p.m. of April 15th.

* The IRS will confirm they received the return and notify you if you inputted any wrong information, and cut your waiting time for a refund in half.

* If you file online, you need to pay for your taxes through automatic withdrawal from your bank account. Credit cards are also an option but require additional fees.

Get Last Minute Help From The IRS- The IRS help line for individuals – 1-800-829-1040 – is manned until midnight, April 14th and 15th.

As A Last Resort Buy Yourself Some Extra Time

The IRS will grant an automatic extension as long as you file for it before midnight on April 15th. The extension will help you avoid any penalties for filing late. However, extensions give extra time for FILING only. If you owe you still must pay by April 15th.

* Use Form 4868 to figure out if you owe. Form 4868 is available at post offices, libraries, tax consultants or online at

* Correction: the telephone number we provided on air to call the IRS for extensions is incorrect. Please note the IRS has discontinued its toll-free phone line for extensions. You may e-file an extension request using tax preparation software or by going to a tax preparer.

* No late filing penalty applies on a refund return, but those who fail to claim it within three years generally lose it.

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